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Remarks by Dr Carla Barnett, Secretary-General, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on the occasion of the Canada-CARICOM Summit “Strategic Partners for a Resilient Future”, Ottawa Canada, 17-19 October 2023

  • The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada;
  • Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica and Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM);
  • Other Heads of State and Government of CARICOM Member States;
  • Distinguished delegates;
  • Ladies and gentlemen.

It is a pleasure to be here today as we convene this Summit between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Canada. On behalf of the Community, I express heartfelt appreciation to the Government of Canada for hosting this high-level engagement and for the warm hospitality extended to our delegations. Canada has remained a vital CARICOM partner since we established formal diplomatic relations, and the Community attaches great value to the bonds of friendship forged over the years.

Today’s engagement provides another opportunity for dialogue on strategies to further strengthen our cooperation and is a follow-up to our engagement during the Community’s Forty-Fourth Heads of Government Conference in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas earlier this year. These interactions are important to nurture closer relations with the view to the development of increased collaboration across various domains, including in the political, economic, environmental, health, scientific, and technical fields.

Excellencies, persistent socio-economic challenges continue to intersect with our common goals in foreign policy, trade, security, and development. Effectively addressing these global challenges requires focused global efforts founded on solidarity and driven by collective action.

Over the next two days, we will discuss a range of issues, including climate change and resilience, access to finance, reform of the international financial architecture, regional security, immigration, trade and investment, and the situation in Haiti.

CARICOM is committed to decisive action on climate change and building resilience in an inclusive and sustainable way in our Region. However, of equal urgency is working together to effectively reduce emissions and make a just transition to a clean energy future across the globe, to limit global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius. And, understanding that there are limits to adaptation, we also have to fairly and effectively address Loss and Damage.

CARICOM Member States and Regional Institutions have been collaborating with Canada on projects to combat the impact of climate change in the Region, including projects to enhance marine and coastal ecosystems management, and bolster water security. CARICOM’s Sustainable Agricultural Project to boost productivity, which has been implemented in five Member States, enjoyed significant support from Canada. This project helped to build climate resilience in agriculture and, by extension, contributed to CARICOM’s push to reduce our food import bill by 25% by 2025, and thereby build food and nutrition security for our Region.

Among other initiatives, Canada has also provided support to some small and medium-sized enterprises involved in fisheries, aquaculture, marine biotechnology, ocean renewable energy, and high-tech marine services.

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This Summit is being convened against the backdrop of an unforgiving international environment marked by multifaceted global instability. As export-oriented small economies, still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and facing the ongoing challenges posed by climate change, the growing instabilities pose additional risks to the Community’s outlook for economic growth.

Dealing effectively with these challenges will require meaningful action on the call for improved access to affordable finance and fundamental reform to the international financial architecture. The discussions around the Bridgetown Initiative will therefore feature in these discussions.  

This Summit will also provide a space to shape the Region’s financial and economic future, through trade and investment strategy discussions. In this regard will explore practical ways in which Canada can support the Region, in a manner that is uniquely beneficial to Canadian business interests and capital markets. Enhancing these commercial relationships and promoting multisectoral business and investment opportunities are critical to foster economic growth, job creation, and prosperity for both sides.

Excellencies, the situation in our largest Member State, Haiti, continues to be a major concern for the Community. Collaboration is critical among parties willing to help resolve the security, humanitarian and political crises. The Government of Canada is part of the collective effort to support meaningful solutions to the multidimensional crisis in Haiti. CARICOM’s objective is to help our sister Member State achieve peace, stability, and critically, economic and social development well into the future.

This diverse and substantial agenda underscores our mutual interest in bolstering ties and enhancing cooperation, and I am very optimistic that the initiatives which will be discussed over the next two days, will reflect continued leadership, commitment and shared responsibility to shape a better and more resilient future for the peoples of CARICOM and Canada.

Thank you very much co-Chairmen, ladies and gentlemen.

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